Husky dog owners seek action from federal court in fatal shooting

2013-10-21T20:45:00Z 2013-10-21T22:12:10Z Husky dog owners seek action from federal court in fatal shootingElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | The owners of two Siberian husky dogs who were shot to death by Crown Point officers filed a federal lawsuit saying their civil rights were violated.

The lawsuit filed Friday in the Northern District of Indiana U.S. District Court names the City of Crown Point and four Crown Point police officers involved in the shooting. Daniel Lee, Michael Brazil, Steve Meece and Stanko Gligic are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Officials from the Crown Point Police Department did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Bradley Nitz and Lindsay Schild say their Fourth Amendment rights were violated because the shooting death of their dogs, Atka and Kenai, was an illegal seizure, according to a complaint filed in court. The owners also say in the lawsuit that the city didn't properly train and discipline the officers.

The owners are suing the city and officers for compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.

The lawsuit stems from a July 17 incident in the Liberty Park neighborhood, where the dogs were being watched by a friend. Police were called to the house by a neighbor who said the dogs had dragged her cat to a nearby creek and were cornering her husband.

According to police reports, the woman described the dogs as "wolves" and police initially thought they were coyotes. The dogs were not wearing tags and their fur was dirty.

Crown Point police previously said an officer used pepper spray on one of the dogs, but the dog continued to circle around the officer and cat owner. Officers shot the dogs because they continued to act aggressively, police previously said.

The complaint filed Friday contradicts police reports about the incident. According to the complaint, Atka and Kenai were not acting aggressively toward the officers or the cat owner. The complaint also alleges that the cat owner egged on the "trigger-happy" officers to shoot the dogs.

According to a police report, the shooting was the first animal-involved incident since 2012 to require lethal force because of aggressive behavior.

The controversial shooting spurred a vigil in downtown Crown Point and letters to local media outlets.

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